2021, crazy how fast it’s come and gone. With everything that everyone’s been through the past two years, there has been no shortage of great titles to keep us occupied and entertained while we continue to navigate this crazy world we’re living in.
Top 10, let’s get it!
10. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl – Switch
When this was first announced it felt like a money grab with just graphical updates. Boy was I wrong. While the graphics definitely help make this feel fresh, it was actually the quality of life changes, albeit geared toward making the game easier, that made this much more enjoyable second time around. Remakes usually wouldn’t be given the nod but the changes they made almost makes this feel like a new addition to the Pokemon franchise.
9. NBA 2K22 (Win, Switch, PS4, PS5, XBO, XSX)
Usually sports games and Call of Duty leave me with nothing to write home about but I was pleasantly surprised when I booted this up and it just felt different. Yes, most of the garbage that plagues games nowadays were present (ie. passes, in-game currency, pay-to-win, etc.) but the gameplay was renewed and less throw-my-controller-at-the-wall frustrating. We’re not quite there yet, but I see you 2K Games and thank you for trying.
8. WarioWare: Get It Together! – Switch
With every system that Nintendo releases, I always think to myself, “WarioWare would be so cool on that.” I waited and waited and when this as finally announced, it felt like the perfect match. This franchise continues to prove that utilizing the hardware Nintendo provides only takes a little bit of imagination to make it really fun and intuitive. The approach to the mini games and giving every character it’s unique way to play keeps the game fresh every time you pick it up.
7. Hood: Outlaws and Legends (Win, PS4, PS5, XBO, XSX)
I’ll admit, I’m biased towards games like this. I love games set in this time period where you sneak around and strategize with teammates to achieve a common goal. There’s also something about pulling off a headshot with a bow and arrow as the enemy tries to make off with the treasure. This game came out of nowhere and it’s not without its’ flaws but it is truly a gem in the industry saturated with FPS/Battle Royale games.
6. Outriders (Win, PS4, PS5, XBO, XSX, Stadia)
When your game is being labeled as the baby of Gears of War and Destiny, it leaves you very little room to mess around. It does a great job of blending the two games to create a new experience backed by a storyline that makes you want to play one more mission instead of getting more sleep. Oddly enough, being compared to the two franchises mentioned before serves as a curse because it’s fails to be either, but rather a really great blend of the two.
5. Knockout City (Win, Switch, PS4, PS5, XBO, XSX)
Extreme dodgeball. That’s it. That’s the post.
This was picked up one night randomly when my friends and I had nothing else to play. Hundreds of hours later, this game easily takes the “I didn’t think I’d love it” award. It looked goofy and something to kill the time but soon came to realize this game is well polished and competitive.
4. Pokemon Unite (Switch, Mobile)
If you told me the best Pokemon title this year would be a Pokemon multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, I would’ve laughed in disbelief and said there would be no way. And yet here we are. I’ve dabbled in previous MOBAs and it’s always been something that has such a skill gap range that it’s hard to enjoy. Pokemon Unite does a great job of simplifying MOBA gameplay and slaps the cuteness of Pokemon on it. It’s a great intro to MOBA’s and has a new take on a franchise we’re all too familiar with.
3. Metroid Dread (Switch)
It has been 10+ years since we’ve had a Metroid title on a Nintendo console. While we didn’t get the first-person Prime title most people wanted, this is amazing title to add to Samus’ legacy. In this day and age, I was skeptical that a 2D platformer could really compete but I found myself feeling nostalgic and eager to explore planet ZDR. Another plus is that it gives a great nod to the difficulty of old-school games; I can’t even count how many times I’ve panicked as an EMMI robot chases and eventually kills me. So satisfying.
2. It Takes Two (Win, PS4, PS5, XBO, XSX)
It’s always those games that were not on anyone’s radar that swoop in and steal the show. This co-op platformer feels like you’re playing something made by Disney/Pixar. The puzzles are great and really make you work together with your partner to get through them. Also, allowing you to play with your partner with only one person owning the game is amazing and needs to be adopted more often. No cap. I cried playing this damn game because of the storyline and I knew it had to be towards the top of my list because of the journey it takes you on.
1. Halo Infinite (Win, XBO, XSX)
I was so torn to put this at the top but it’s one of the largest releases this year that actually didn’t completely disappoint. Master Chief returns and the team at 343 really got this one down. Again, being a non-COD FPS/non-BR game already gives this game extra points for me. It’s so nice to get back to something familiar and actually feels like it did in the past. The multiplayer is well polished and stays true to Halo gunplay which could have easily gone awry. They took everything Halo fans loved and improved most aspects of it and took risks in areas they could, like the campaign, that ultimately paid off.
Although a big title sits atop my list, this year had a bunch of games the flew low key that surprised us all. I hope that this trend continues and bigger companies and franchises take risks and push boundaries.
My prediction going in to 2022 is that we’ll see more VR games getting more recognition and more companies get away from the same old stuff they’ve been putting out. Take more risks and listen to the fans!
Stay safe and healthy in 2022 and game on!